Editor, momstown Guelph
According to the dictionary, happiness is:
1, 2. pleasure, joy, exhilaration, bliss, contentedness, delight, enjoyment, satisfaction. Happiness, bliss, contentment, felicity imply an active or passive state of pleasure or pleasurable satisfaction. Happiness results from the possession or attainment of what one considers good: the happiness of visiting one's family. Bliss is unalloyed happiness or supreme delight: the bliss of perfect companionship. Contentment is a peaceful kind of happiness in which one rests without desires, even though every wish may not have been gratified: contentment in one's surroundings. Felicity is a formal word for happiness of an especially fortunate or intense kind: to wish a young couple felicity in life.
My husband and I have been happily (well, mostly) married now for 15 years. Although we have had our struggles and disagreements over the years, and four children later, we have always managed to maintain a close bond and unity. We recognize the importance of marriage for ourselves and for our children. Statistics say that ‘people who believed that marriage was not very important to their happiness were three times more likely to dissolve their marriages.” (reference below) So, do Canadians view the reason to get married and the key to a lasting marriage based on their need for happiness? What gives us this right or the entitlement to believe that we, as humans, are to be happy all the time? And, what do we define as happiness?
Well, the true definition of happiness can be found in the dictionary, or at the top of this article.
But, we need to take away desire, and just commit to having pleasure, or contentment, I think, rather than happiness. I am just as guilty of believing that I must be extremely happy all of the time with my spouse. That is just not reality. I need to be content in all circumstances, and thankful for what I do have. We are not going to be happy all of the time. Let’s face it. This is impossible. To be happy all of the time, is to have human desires of the heart fulfilled all of the time. It is like wanting to live in a mansion. This is a greed, not a need. In order for us to have happiness, our desires would have to be met all of the time, throughout all of our lives. Human beings are constantly striving for happiness, that is, striving for desires that go unmet in this life. If we focus on the pleasures and the blessings of life, we would be much more content in our circumstances. If we did not desire to be exceedingly happy all of the time, wanting to satisfy every part of our existence, the divorce rate, I think, would plummet. So, why not try to be thankful for the pleasures that come in your marriage, instead of constantly wanting more for yourself, wanting your spouse to give you all of the happiness that you feel that you are entitled to, putting your spouse in the driver’s seat for fulfilling your every greed and desire? Now, don’t get me wrong. There are areas in any marriage whereby forgiveness and contentment are not going to be easily present. Take, for example, the unfaithful husband. It is hard to find marital contentment in this type of marriage – when a husband has sadly tried to fulfill his own desire for ‘happiness and bliss’ in other places.
However, in what one would call a typical marriage, where two people fell in love, and are still in love, whilst trying to agree to disagree, why would they not try to just find pleasure in the companionship, love, and events that manifest themselves throughout their married life?
Marriage could be, in my definition, a pleasurable adventure, filled with blessings, and contentment, if we were just to let it be so. If you look at it in this light, and reflect on the pleasures of each married day, you may just find contentment.
So, this Valentine’ s Day, I challenge you to try writing down 10 things that you find pleasurable about your marriage. It could be a nice walk in the woods on a bright and sunny day. Take each pleasure as it comes each day, instead of searching constantly to find happiness in each day. The little pleasures of a married life are many. Here are some pleasures that I have had in my married life.
Laughter – my husband and I constantly joke and laugh together
Walking in the woods
Talking about our hopes and dreams (although very different; compromising, and setting goals)
Going to a Christian Campground; reading devotions together and talking about what they mean to us; praying together; looking at the beauty around us
Going out for coffee
Our children and time together as a family
Having friends over for get-togethers
Intimate moments shared together- sexual pleasure is a gift and should be deemed as a pleasure, not a burden, or an inconvenience
Working together; giving and serving the other
Reflecting on the good times and the bad times together; remembering whatinitially brought us together
Reflecting our values, and showing the sacredness of marriage to our children; being good role models to our children, as to the ups and downs and strength of a good marriage
This Valentine's Day, let's reflect on our marriages as 'pleasurable', not, what we, as humans, view as 'happy'. Let's reflect on those little things that make us content in our marriages. Those cute, little, romantic, sometimes comical, moments. I once heard someone say that if we think that we are falling out of love with our spouse due to their little 'quirks', it is important for us to try to remember why you fell in love with your spouse in the first place. Chances are, those little frustrating (not making you 'happy') 'quirks', are the same things that attracted you to him/her in the courting relationship.
So……don't worry, be………CONTENT…..in those pleasurable moments that make your marriage a bond that cannot be broken.
Lana Kelly( B.A, SSW, ECE, Montessori). For 20 years, Lana has been dedicated to helping children and families. In 2010, she published a book (The Sheepish Lamb) , aimed at building resilience to childhood anxiety. She is a mom to four daughters, and values her faith and family solidarity.